A Niche Degree: a Case Study of an MA (in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology)

This paper introduces a case study of T he Sophia Centre’s MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, UK. I nitiated in 2002 as a campus-based degree with fifteen students, the MA has been taught online since 2008; its current student body numb...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Diskus
Main Author: Brady, Bernadette 1950-
Contributors: Bird, Alie (Other)
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
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Published: [2014]
In:Diskus
Year: 2013, Volume: 14, Pages: 55-69
Online Access: Volltext (Kostenfrei)
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Summary:This paper introduces a case study of T he Sophia Centre’s MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, UK. I nitiated in 2002 as a campus-based degree with fifteen students, the MA has been taught online since 2008; its current student body numbers seventy-five. The strategies adopted in moving to online delivery are identified and evaluated. It is observed that these were influenced by an entrepreneurial philosophy imported from the private sector. While a t first glance the differences between a campus-based and an online degree seem obvious , on closer inspection these differences become blurred. Key factors in implementing successful online course delivery are recognised as being the construction of a virtual campus to mirror the brick-built campus in functional terms to facilitate learning and encourage students and their tutors to establish online identities and build community. The particular importance of the curriculum is noted. Criteria attributed by different commentators to so-called niche degrees are considered. It is concluded that the MA can be described as a niche degree by virtue of the facts that its student body is diverse in age; may or may not use the degree for leveraging their careers; that its specialised curriculum links it with a special interest group which is geographically diverse and hence exclusively accessible online. Contrary to some criticism of an entrepreneurial influence on higher education, it is concluded that this style of an online niche degree harks back to a medieval academic model.
ISSN:0967-8948
Contains:Enthalten in: Diskus
Persistent identifiers:DOI: 10.18792/diskus.v14i0.16